By Hannah Furness, Arts Correspondent, The Telegraph
For decades he has swaggered through life conquering women, chain smoking and saving the world, untroubled by the sensitivities of the 21st century.
In a new book, however, James Bond will be getting a dose of modern morality, as author Anthony Horowitz reveals the tricks he used to drag the spy kicking and screaming into the era of political correctness.
Horowitz, the writer of new Bond novel Trigger Mortis, said he had worked carefully to preserve Ian Fleming’s original character and ensuring his 1950s attitudes remained in tact.
But he has introduced a cast of new characters to point out the error of his chauvinistic ways, including messages about smoking causing cancer, women who give him a run for his money, and an “outspoken” gay friend.
Horowitz, who has been given access to Fleming’s own notes to research his latest update, said he had inserted “little twists” to make the story work for modern readers.
“The book is true to the character and keeps him as fans would want him, which is as the original hard-bitten guy,” he said. “But then it always challenges and nudges and says ‘well wait a minute’.”
Among the surprises for fans includes the return of Pussy Galore, who has moved in with Bond in London and spend the mornings squabbling in quite the opposite of domestic bliss.
It is the first time a Bond storyline has followed a Bond Girl forward, beyond the spy’s conquest and inevitable desertion.
Trigger Mortis sees the new couple living in 1957 Chelsea and irritating one another over their boiled eggs, with “an uneasy silence full of dark thoughts and words unsaid”.
On the challenges of making Bond work for modern readers, Horowitz said he had realised there was an issue with the original plot, in which Pussy Galore is a lesbian who is overcome with lust for Bond.
“One of the challenges of writing the book was that attitude that a heterosexual man can change a woman’s life and make her go weak at the knees,” he told radio station RTE.
“That’s something that would be challenged, I think, in the 21st century.
“So it’s how do you square that circle? How do you remain true to the original creation and concept and yet at the same time not offend people in the 21st century?
“If you read Trigger Mortis, you’ll see actually there is a little twist to the tale in that particular story which I think sort of pays him off for his slightly patronising attitude.”
Saying readers must remember Ian Fleming’s novels were “of their time”, he added: “I think the answer is that in the book I remain true to every one of Bond’s things.
“He does smoke cigarettes, he smokes many many cigarettes. But then what I do is I nudge him with a little reference to a newspaper article he happens to glance at which just reminds him that these things will give him cancer.
“With women, he has this sort of patronising carnal attitude with them which is absolutely accurate to the Bond of the books. But then by creating very strong women he is given quite a run for his money and his attitudes are challenged.
“I also gave him a very outspoken gay friend, who chides him and says ‘come on Bond, you’re living in the 20th century now not the Middle Ages.’”
Horowitz, creator of The House of Silk, Moriaty and the Alex Rider children’s series, added: “My first duty, my first responsibility was to be true to the original feel of the book, to be true to Ian Fleming: his creation, his world and his ideas.
“What I was trying to do was wrap myself in his mantle and write a book that would be worthy of him.”
Trigger Mortis was awarded four stars by the Telegraph, with reviewer Jake Kerridge saying Horowitz has “captured the spirit of Fleming more successfully” than any other author permitted to write the Bond continuation novels. It is on sale now.